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Minn. gas prices shoot up 50 cents a gallon in one week

Published On: May 20 2013 07:21:40 PM CDT   Updated On: May 20 2013 07:25:58 PM CDT

If you've taken a trip to the gas station recently, chances are filling up your tank is leaving your wallet running on empty.

Gas prices are surging in the Midwest, especially in Minnesota, where the average price of regular gas is hovering at $4.29 a gallon.

It's like a magic trick, but less fun: La Crescent resident Ed Haberlein puts gas in his car and watches his money disappear.

"I'm not filling it up. I'm only putting $20 in. Waiting for it to go down,” said Haberlein. “We're not taking a vacation this year just because of the fact."

In just one week, the price of a regular tank of gas shot up nearly 50 cents a gallon in Minnesota. The price went up 15 cents in Wisconsin.

Compare those to the national average, a nine-cent increase.

"It sucks -- bottom line," said La Crescent gas station and convenience store PUMP 4 LE$$ manager Rick Payne.

That gasoline is Payne's bread and butter. He said not only are customers pumping fewer gallons of gas, they’re buying fewer snacks in the convenience store.

“We fill out a report every day for each shift and then at the end of the day it all gets tallied up. And you can tell. Each shift can tell," said Payne.

AAA field manager Cheryl Thienes said Midwestern oil refineries are behind the skyrocketing prices.

“The current spike in gasoline prices is mainly due to the maintenance that's being done on several refineries in the Midwest. Some of these refineries are in Illinois, Indiana, Kansas and Oklahoma,” said Thienes. “Since the refineries take the crude oil and turn it into gasoline and diesel fuel, any time a refinery closes down, it greatly impacts the supply and demand, which causes the gas prices to go up at the pumps."

"I mean, what are you going to do? You've got to. We're stuck, everybody. You're stuck, he's stuck, I'm stuck. We've got to pay for it. I can buy a smaller car but I don't fit in a smaller car," said Haberlein.

Although if he did buy a smaller car, it would match his now-smaller wallet.

So when do the gas prices come back down? Thienes said AAA is hearing those refineries undergoing maintenance right now should be up and running again sometime in June. At that point, prices should start to decrease.

It's unclear at this point exactly how much the higher gas prices will impact travel on Memorial Day weekend. Later this week, AAA plans to release its outlook on how many people will travel, what the cost will be and how it compares to last year.